2 Chronicles 1:1-13 (Part 1) – All Great Empires End, Only God Endures!

Posted: July 1, 2020 in 14-2 Chronicles

2 Chronicles 1:1-13 (Part 1 of 2)

Solomon Asks for Wisdom

Opening Illustration/Comments

Last night, I watched an episode of the History Channel series, Unearthed, and this one was about the great city of Babylon, the empire of which it was the capital, and about its great rulers, Hammurabi and Nebuchadnezzar II. Hammurabi[a] (c. 1810 – c. 1750 BC) was the sixth king of the First Babylonian dynasty of the Amorite tribe,[2] reigning from c. 1792 BC to c. 1750 BC (according to the Middle Chronology). He was preceded by his father, Sin-Muballit, who abdicated due to failing health. During his reign, he conquered Elam and the city-states of Larsa, Eshnunna, and Mari. He ousted Ishme-Dagan I, the king of Assyria, and forced his son Mut-Ashkur to pay tribute, bringing almost all of Mesopotamia under Babylonian rule.

Hammurabi is best known for having issued the Code of Hammurabi, which he claimed to have received from Shamash, the Babylonian god of justice. Unlike earlier Sumerian law codes, such as the Code of Ur-Nammu, which had focused on compensating the victim of the crime, the Law of Hammurabi was one of the first law codes to place greater emphasis on the physical punishment of the perpetrator. It prescribed specific penalties for each crime and is among the first codes to establish the presumption of innocence. Although its penalties are extremely harsh by modern standards, they were intended to limit what a wronged person was permitted to do in retribution. The Code of Hammurabi and the Law of Moses in the Torah contain numerous similarities.

Nebuchadnezzar ascended the throne in 605 BC and subsequently fought several campaigns in the West, where Egypt was trying to organize a coalition against him. His conquest of Judah is described in the Bible’s Books of Kings, Books of Chronicles and Book of Jeremiah. His capital, Babylon, is the largest archaeological site in the Middle East. The Bible remembers him as the destroyer of Solomon’s Temple and the initiator of the Babylonian captivity. He is an important character in the Book of Daniel. After ridding Babylon of domination by the Assyrian empire (headquartered in Ninevah to the north in what is now modern day Syria), Babylon (located in the southern part of modern-day Iraq) flourished under Nebuchadnezzar. A new era of architectural activity ensued. Nebuchadnezzar ordered the complete reconstruction of the imperial grounds, including the Etemenanki ziggurat, and the construction of the Ishtar Gate—the most prominent of eight gates around Babylon. A reconstruction of the Ishtar Gate is located in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. Nebuchadnezzar is also credited with the construction of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon—one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World—said to have been built for his homesick wife Amyitis. Under his rule, Babylonia extended as far north as Macedonia, to the west in the Sinai, to the east to what is now the Caspian Sea, and to the south as the northern half of the Arabian Peninsula.

The capital city during this time was amazing for that point in human history. It was the largest city in the world. It was the home of great architectural wonders. It was a center of advanced study of the arts and mathematics. It was a technologically advanced city for its time. The special about the wonders that were the city of Babylon was so interesting. It was also interesting to me because as I have been for the last year been studying the books of 1 & 2 Kings and 1 & 2 Chronicles about God’s chosen people, the Israelite nation, and how they ultimately are conquered by the Assyrians to the north, the Babylonians in the south.

But the reason I bring these things up this morning is the fact that the majesty and wonder that was the city of Babylon is no more. It was an amazing city from the scant historical records about the city. It was the center, the hub, the capital of one of the great empires of history. But today, there are only ruins of what once was an amazing testament to the capabilities of man. However, now, the empire is gone. The grand city was abandoned through deportations during the post-Alexandran Greek empire’s rule of the area by 275 BC. Thus, the city became insignificant and wasted away to nothing. By the time the Muslims conquered the area in the 7th century AD, they were using it as a source of bricks for building other cities. Today, there are only ruins. The desert reclaimed much of the area and foundations of the wonders of what was are buried under mounds of dirt and sound. It is only in the last century that Western and Middle Eastern archaeologists have begun to reclaim the ruins of the city from the ravages of the desert and of time.

It is a reminder to us on this Independence Day week in America that our country is a human endeavor. We are just the latest of the human empires that have dotted the world throughout history. Babylon, its capital and its empire, were once the envy of the world. The only place that people in our century can get any real exposure to its existence in a currently actively read document is the Bible. If it were not for the Bible, it is likely that there would never been much interest in excavating the sites of the city of Babylon. It seems that the only thing that survives is God’s Word, and things of God.

There is physical evidence of man-made empires of the biblical era. The Egyptians, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks, and the Romans, all of them are documented extrabiblically to have existed. We know these things. But we know very little of the people and their daily lives, particularly of common men. However, with the Bible, we know of the mind of God. We know of the mind of the Israelite people way better than any of these great empires. We know of the mind of Christ. We can feel intimately close to the people of God and to Christ himself through the Bible. All other things are temporary. Only the Word of God is permanent. Let us remember that as a nation. We will not last forever. The opulence of America, we think will last forever. However, we are but the latest in a succession of empires that have ruled the world. We will not last. Only things of God last.

That idea of only that which is of God is the only that gets truly preserved is what I thought about this morning as we start of in 2 Chronicles. In it, we will see a history of the southern kingdom but very little of the northern kingdom. Let us think about why that is as we read this first passage, 2 Chronicles 1:1-13, for the first of two times that we will we read through it and contemplate on it.

Scripture Passage

1 Solomon son of David took firm control of his kingdom, for the Lord his God was with him and made him very powerful.

2 Solomon called together all the leaders of Israel—the generals and captains of the army,[a] the judges, and all the political and clan leaders. 3 Then he led the entire assembly to the place of worship in Gibeon, for God’s Tabernacle[b] was located there. (This was the Tabernacle that Moses, the Lord’s servant, had made in the wilderness.)

4 David had already moved the Ark of God from Kiriath-jearim to the tent he had prepared for it in Jerusalem. 5 But the bronze altar made by Bezalel son of Uri and grandson of Hur was there[c] at Gibeon in front of the Tabernacle of the Lord. So Solomon and the people gathered in front of it to consult the Lord.[d] 6 There in front of the Tabernacle, Solomon went up to the bronze altar in the Lord’s presence and sacrificed 1,000 burnt offerings on it.

7 That night God appeared to Solomon and said, “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!”

8 Solomon replied to God, “You showed great and faithful love to David, my father, and now you have made me king in his place. 9 O Lord God, please continue to keep your promise to David my father, for you have made me king over a people as numerous as the dust of the earth! 10 Give me the wisdom and knowledge to lead them properly,[e] for who could possibly govern this great people of yours?”

11 God said to Solomon, “Because your greatest desire is to help your people, and you did not ask for wealth, riches, fame, or even the death of your enemies or a long life, but rather you asked for wisdom and knowledge to properly govern my people— 12 I will certainly give you the wisdom and knowledge you requested. But I will also give you wealth, riches, and fame such as no other king has had before you or will ever have in the future!”

13 Then Solomon returned to Jerusalem from the Tabernacle at the place of worship in Gibeon, and he reigned over Israel.

Passage Analysis

In this passage, we begin 2 Chronicles. In it, we see that while 1 Chronicles focuses mainly on David’s life. This second half of Chronicles focuses on the lives of the rest of the kings of Judah, the southern kingdom. Very little is mentioned about the northern kingdom, Israel. There are two reasons that so little is written about the northern kingdom. First, Chronicles was written for Judeans who had returned from captivity in Babylon. Second, Judah represented David’s family, from which the Messiah would come. Israel was in a state of constant turmoil, anarchy and rebellion against God, but Judah, at least, made more sporadic attempts to follow God.

Life Application

The northern kingdom, from the get-go after the split, pursued false gods, so there is nothing to report of them in this book focused on highlighted the hope and the future of the people of God. Only that which is of God survives eternally. The Bible is alive today and will always be alive as part of our faith. It is not some ancient historical manuscript from a lost civilization that is only read by historians and archaeologists. It is read by billions of people worldwide and has been for millennia and will be for millennia on end. Why? Because it is of God. It is not of man.

Everything that we put stock in from a human endeavor standpoint will not last. It is only the things of God that will last. The northern kingdom when it broke away from the appointed rule of God, they immediately became a pagan nation, just like all the pagan empires around them. None of them survived. They all thought their humanly built empires would last forever. We Americans think that about our country and its empire. We are just another empire, folks. We will have our moment at the apex of human endeavor for a while longer, but we will not last. We will not be the king of the hill forever. None of the empires before us have lasted. Neither will we. Only the things of God survive.

That’s where we need to be putting our eggs. In the basket of the things eternal of God. Where are your priorities? Are they in trusting in America as the eternal empire? Are they in collecting as many toys as we can? Are you placing your trust in the current narrative of political correctness that has become a false religion in our society? Are you placing your trust in anything other than God? It will not last. Begin now to put your trust in the only one, truly eternal thing that matters, God. It is He who will judge our eternal life which lasts a whole lot longer than even the longest major world empire has ever lasted. Where are you going to put your trust?

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